My Opinion…On Opinions

Opinions.

Everybody’s got them. Everyone is entitled to them.

Lately it feels as though more and more people are voicing them and/or sharing them on the internet, too. About everything. Even if someone doesn’t know a single fact about the subject upon which they are speaking, they are allowed – we all are allowed – to go ahead and spew forth whatever opinion we have on said matter. It’s pretty much our God-given right, and we’re going to exercise it every chance we get, dammit.

The thing is – and this is just my opinion (see what I did there?) – I’m not certain that a) any of our opinions actually matter to anyone but us, especially the uninformed ones, because b) we’re so busy screaming our opinions from the rooftops that we’re not bothering to listen to nor consider the opinion of another, but rather how to respond to them so that they’ll know they are wrong, and c) we’re basically all contributing to the rapid decline of intelligence and critical thinking in our own species.

You know…that thing that sets us apart from and above all the lowly non-human beasts of the planet.

Like, can opinions even be wrong? They can be formed upon misinformation, but can the actual opinion itself be incorrect? By definition, isn’t it really just how we feel about something based on what we believe we know about it? Wouldn’t something more concrete be more like a fact? Opinions can even change (on the rare occasion anyone bothers to inform theirs on something of a continuous basis), so can something so fluid really be considered wrong? Why are we all so eager to prove ourselves and those who agree with us to be correct in something we only feel rather than know?

If I say I feel light-headed one day, can someone else tell me that’s not how I feel? I would think that we should at least be able to agree to disagree, and yet, in most cases, the vast majority of what I see in the world – the public world – is that people can’t even do that.

I think this.”

You’re wrong, because I think this!”

We can both be right, from a certain point of view, and we can both be wrong. So sayeth Obi-Wan, kinda.

But I’m not sure opinion can be measured in a pissing contest, which is basically all we’re doing now. We’re all just peeing and then arguing about who’s pee is correct.

The funny thing is, none of our opinions even matter anymore, if they ever did. Instead of opening a discourse, all we are doing is peeing our pee, and letting others judge our pee – usually while they are also peeing and we are judging theirs – and no one is listening. I’m not listening to you, you’re not listening to me, no one else is listening to either of us.

Unless we already agree. Then we both pee and pat one another on the back for a job well done.

I was actually just thinking about this the other day. I was wondering if I should try to pass on to whoever will listen some of the things that I have learned in life thus far? Or should I focus on continued learning? Because I am fairly certain that I can not do both, at least not with any degree of success. I feel like I can focus on finding the right words to convey bits of knowledge-like gems gleaned over the past almost 44 years, or I can focus on paying attention to the world around me, and struggling to understand it better; to perhaps even understand another being’s experience with this planet, if only a tiny morsel of it.

In the latter pursuit, someone’s well-expressed opinion can help in learning a great deal, though probably the best teacher is experience – paired with mistakes – and finished off with a healthy dose of connections made in between. But it is imperative to good learning for a person to remain focused; to pay attention. To watch in silence more than speaking.

In the former quest, it’s vital to express thoughts and opinions well, and to re-frame words in different ways, in order to not only get them across, but to also confirm that you are doing so. Questions need to be asked to make sure the listener is on the same page before moving on, lest you leave them behind and with nothing to take away from the conversation at all.

Don’t be so busy talking that you forget to check in. If no one is listening at all, then you’ve failed on both counts – learning and sharing.

Neither are easy, but both are – or should be – necessary to some degree. I just feel like I personally need to focus more on one or the other for a little while. I keep thinking about trying to teach and share, but in the end, it’s my own somewhat selfish thirst for understanding that pushes me to keep watching.

And judging the rest of you. I mean, let’s be real – nobody’s perfect. At least I can admit it, though. Sometimes to my detriment, but still. I understand that I have much more to learn than I have already learned, and that even my perceived knowledge or understanding is deeply flawed, so that there is always room to grow. I am also really not good at confrontation. I find I can’t express myself very well when I am upset or passionate about whatever subject is being “discussed”. You know what, though? I don’t think the rest of you are, either. I don’t think anyone is. I’m not sure it’s even possible to have a personal, emotional stake in something and yet remain removed enough for logic and reason to overcome emotion. It’s just that most of you don’t care to give voice to your opinions so that others may come to understand them. You just think that peeing louder makes your pee more right.

And the thing is, for the most part, you don’t really know. You feel like you do, but you don’t. None of us do. But we say it, anyway, because it’s our opinion and we are entitled to it.

Maybe that’s why I prefer to just stay home with the dog and cats who live with me. I don’t have to remind myself to not read their comments.

The word ‘opinion’ looks like ‘onion’ when you type it enough.

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Boxing Memories

Had a bit of a nightmare last night. Or, not exactly that, but a highly unpleasant dream. Not frightening in any way, really, but definitely left me feeling heavy after; a feeling which won’t be departing any time soon. The details aren’t important, and while the content of the dream I had after I went back to sleep was much more enjoyable, even that added to the heaviness when I awoke this morning. Just in a different way.

I’m resigned to this feeling now, I think. At least to sit with it for a time, and see how things go.

I’m not up to fighting it anymore right now.

I wish I could write more truth. And write it better than anything I am able to write now. The book I am reading currently is filled with snippets of truth laid out so simply before the reader that one could easily look right past it without pausing to take it in and realize what it actually is. I started taking pictures of certain passages with my phone; moments that ring true to me and that I want to remember beyond the pages of the book itself.

I considered finishing the book last night before bed, but I’m not quite ready to be done with it yet. I also haven’t decided what I’m reading next. So I dawdle.

There was a line about catching a brief glimpse of the contents of a box, and while not able to list off each individual item, seeing enough to realize that it’s all “the things a person in love collects when she’s not loved in return”. I read that line and my mind immediately went to all the little boxes of random items collected during past relationships of my own. At the time, they were mementos, which turned into painful reminders of what was lost after the relationship ended. And yet kept in a box at the back of my closet…or wherever…I think there are a few of them, but all scattered about and buried under other possessions. For what reason would I, or anyone else, keep such things?

I mean, definitely a large part of it is my irrational fear of forgetting my life. Even though I know I won’t likely forget any of those people (they are part of who I am now, and most of them are still in my life, to some degree or other), and even though I could look at many of those random items now and have no idea what the fuck they are supposed to be reminding me of, or what memory they are tied to – even though I logically know all this, there is still a feeling of comfort in having those things around. In knowing that I could look at them if I wanted to, and that at least some memories are still in there.

I imagine there is also some sort of therapeutic value in tucking everything about a person from your past away into a box and putting it out of sight, but still within reach. Not burning the bridge, but not using it anymore, either. I’ve never been the sort to try and forget a person, especially not if their only crime was in not loving me back the same way I loved them. It’s not usually an anger-inducing feeling, on my end; more resignation, and a sense of “well of course not – why would someone like you love someone like me this same way” sort of thing. Which isn’t meant to come across as mopey as it no doubt sounds. I tend to view it more as a confirmation of something I already know, or at least suspect. I have a hard time holding it against other people, when it’s something I already feel myself.

I realize there is the whole self-fulfilling prophecy argument to be made, too, but again – logic doesn’t really dictate feeling, at least not in my experience. So I get it – but I don’t feel it, so save your breath on that one!

Anyway, the thing which struck me more about the whole sentence in the book and how it relates to my life is in the idea that one can know they are not loved in return, and yet choose to love, anyway. Choose to allow themselves to love. It wouldn’t just be a risk, then, but a foregone conclusion that the relationship – friendship – whatever it is, will come to an end. Not necessarily in a permanent, no contact ever again kind of way, but that whatever it is for each person will change, and not be the same again for either of them. Maybe they grow apart, maybe they betray one another in some way, maybe they have an explosive break-up and really do never see one another again. Maybe they grow to hate the one they once loved. There are all kinds of ways that love dies; and all manner of reasons. But choosing to love, anyway, even when you already know you’re not loved back the same way – it could be a bit noble, or needy, or outright dumb – but the fact is that someone chose love, and maybe the box of random memories serves as more a reminder of having made that choice, rather than of the specific circumstances themselves.

Or I could just be trying to make myself feel better about saving so much crap, and justifying that to no one who asked. Well, except myself.

It’s funny, too, how much space is taken up with mementos of relationships past. One of my best and arguably healthiest relationships – which I don’t really talk about because it’s hard to make someone who wasn’t there understand – is pretty much relegated to the pages of a journal I kept at the time, and a framed photograph that hangs on the wall. I don’t think she got a box, and yet the few physical items I do have are some of the most personal and…intimate, but not in the way you’re thinking…items I’ve kept from pretty much any other relationship I’ve had. It’s not much, but it’s some of the most powerful.

My last relationship is literally everywhere. There is a bin in my closet of things, but that’s mostly because there’s just not space to put everything where it can be visible. Believe me, plenty of the memories we created together are visible. From a hanging over my bed, to some of the clothes that I wear, to a ring on my finger – moments of ours are all around me, and very much a part of me, even now.

Maybe more now than then, in many ways.

One ex is kept almost entirely in a shoebox – but a nice one. It’s decorated.

My first actual relationship is I believe in an empty Kleenex box. Or two. That plastic window with the slit makes it easy to add small objects and paper notes. Like a piggy bank but not. I think there are photos and letters in one of the folders or envelopes on my bookshelf, too, but it’s been so long since I even looked at them that I am not exactly sure where they are now, or if I even still have them.

Friendship stuff is even more scattered, but just as important, and just as much a part of who I am now. All through school I boxed everything up together by year. After graduating with my first undergrad degree is where things get a little sketchy; strewn about and less organized.

I’m pretty certain I still have a pop cap that a boy I liked gave me (as a joke) in first year university, though. It meant nothing, and yet still something, somehow.

My most recent best friend has finally found herself a nice new one with a penis, which is amazing for her, as it’s what she’s been wanting for a very long time. I’m honoured to have been chosen as the one to hold his place for him until he could get there, though a little sad for myself now. Haha The important thing is that she’s finally happy, and I am better at intermittent friendshipping, anyway, so I don’t have to worry about failing nearly so often now. That’s definitely a good thing. It was making me sad to constantly come up short, so while I’ll definitely miss our time together, I know that everything is much better for her now. She’s finally in the kind of good place she deserves, and that makes me happy. 🙂

I meant to write more about truth than I have, but I got distracted by boxes of memories and why I would still keep them. I am not even sure I’ve completely delved as far into those reasons as I could or should, but this post somehow got long again. I will say that I’ve been struggling much more lately about how much truth to reveal to those who know me, as well as which specific details should be shared. I don’t think I understand, like, normal human interactions. Haha

I often try to mimic or match what I see from others – like if someone tells me something personal, I try to return that by sharing something equally personal about myself. If I can determine a proper scale of personal-ness, of course. It seems more difficult to me lately, though. I don’t know if that’s because I have more things that I could speak openly about that are different from before – like current events instead of just the past – or if I’m getting less from those around me so I’m not sure when I’ve crossed the TMI line, and thus stay silent more often due to more uncertainty. I don’t know. I don’t know.

For some reason, so much feels new to me now. It’s not like I’ve never had friends or relationships before, but either I’m different or they’re different or, more likely, both. I haven’t figured out how to navigate the world, I guess. The way I used to doesn’t work for me anymore, and I have yet to discover a way that does.

I’d probably have more luck if I spent less time talking to a dog and three cats, huh?

More Than Routine

I suppose I’ve always been a creature of habit; of routine.  Like many – maybe even most – I have specific things I do when I get up in the morning, and before I go to bed at night.  I travel the same route to and from work most of the time, and usually go for the same spots on the subway and streetcar.  I  have a favourite area to sit in the movie theatre.  I even buy pretty much the same things at the grocery store.

Many of those routines and rituals are born of convenience and logic.  They are things I need to get done before I leave for work, or it’s the quickest way from Point A to Point B.  Things I do every day because they need to be done, and usually on a schedule that is also the same each day.

I’d be super easy to stalk, really.  I rarely deviate except out of necessity.

But there are so many more things I do that most people don’t know about, and that I barely catch myself doing, in part because they are habit and in part because they make no sense.

I breathe a certain way if I feel there are germs in the vicinity, because inside I feel like it helps keep me from getting sick.  It doesn’t but I feel like it does.  I say certain things to the animals before I leave the apartment, because I feel like it will keep them safe.  Maybe they also have a better understanding of what’s happening because they hear the same words at certain times, but while that’s a best case scenario, I mostly do it because I feel it’s like a protection spell to last until my return.  It’s not, but I feel like it is.  I try to make sure my right hand is the last one to touch them before we part, instead of my left.  I like things to be in odd numbers instead of even, from the time my clock displays when I turn off a light, to the number of seconds I count in my head when rinsing with mouthwash, to the number of treats I give Brody after a walk.

All of these things are so small, they are barely noticeable even to me.  They are not quite superstition, but their power exists in my inability to shake the certainty that something terrible will happen if I don’t do them.  And what’s worse is that the terrible thing will actually be all my fault.

On a logic level, I know that’s ludicrous.  But the feeling is so powerful that I’d honestly rather be safe than sorry.  I’d rather leave a bit late while I wait for the minute display on the clock to be an odd number than return home to find my apartment burned to the ground.  Logically I know that the odd-numbered minute does nothing to prevent or cause such a thing, but inside me, there is actual panic freezing me in place.  And while the physical manifestation of these little habits has changed over the years, the certainty that I would be to blame if something terrible happened if I didn’t do them has, I think, always been there.

Does that kind of pressure – having to remember to do all of these things in order to prevent something much worse from happening – cause much of my anxiety?  Or is it the anxiety of knowing so much of what happens in life is out of my control the reason that I started trying to invent small ways of retaining some sense of control?

Chicken or egg?  Either way, they are for certain related to one another.

For the most part, I see no reason to be concerned.  These little habits don’t hurt anyone, and so far they at least haven’t taken over my life to the point of being frozen inside of my own mind, and only able to move about the world in tiny increments.  I still live a pretty normal life from the outside. The panic has not yet crippled me.  There’s always the chance that it will, but I think – if it does – it’ll be a slow build and I will be able to see it coming.

Of course, whether or not I actually do anything to rein it back in is a different matter.

I remember as little kids, my brother and I would always get a hamburger happy meal when we went to McDonald’s.  It was a treat to go there, because there wasn’t one closer than a half hour’s drive away.  One time, our babysitters took us to what was then a new-ish drive-thru option, and we ordered hamburgers while they ordered cheeseburgers.  Naturally, the order got messed up but no one noticed until we’d pulled away.  We only got cheeseburgers.

With mild trepidation, my brother and I took a bite of the hamburger with cheese, then immediately realized the genius of having cheese included on a burger.  After that, we always ordered cheeseburgers.  Those kinds of habits are different, of course.  We just didn’t know yet how much we loved cheese.  Nothing bad was going to happen if I didn’t eat my regular hamburger, other than perhaps not loving what I ended up eating instead.  But it feels much the same inside.  There’s the same kind of uncertainty, but added to it is, like, actual fear.

Incidentally, remember how awesome happy meal toys used to be?  I’d totally go for much of that stuff even now!  They should offer retro/classic happy meals for adults, with toys from Tron and The Black Hole and the like.  I’d be all over that.  I remember getting a plastic “watch” that had a secret compartment where the watch face was. Of course, it wasn’t that secret because it was freaking huge, but still cool.  Made me feel like a spy, or something.

I took a course in, like, first or second year university- I can’t even remember what it was now – and the prof taught us the various stages of conflict that each of us must go through in order to grow as a person.  The first one happens before you are born – Trust vs Mistrust.  You have to feel safe enough to enter the world in a healthy and confident way, apparently. Something occurred to me that day, which has stayed with me and been reflected upon several times since.

On an emotional level, it’s entirely possible that I’m still inside the womb.

Edited to add:  It was9:13am when I pushed the “Publish” button on this post, but it switched to 9:14am as it was posting.  I’m going to try to be okay with that, because hitting the button was the only part within my control.